CuiousPages - fiction and nonfiction
CuriousPages - fiction and nonfiction
When he bought his house, an old lady lived next door, called Mrs Gertzberg. She was a retired French horn player who had Alzheimer’s disease. At the end, her short-term memory had deteriorated to the extent where she could not recall whether she had already observed a musical repeat sign, so would repeat the same tune endlessly. Sometimes she would repeat the same short section for an entire afternoon. At weekends, Craig resorted to donning a tracksuit, venturing outside and attempting to outrun the range of a French horn. He began willing her Alzheimer’s to progress to the stage where she would forget where she left her French horn; or alternatively, to progress to the stage where they would all be released from her torment. But when his wish was finally granted and Mrs Gertzberg died, her house was bought by Triple Ex Productions. They filmed porn videos and hosted live, internet peep shows there. Craig bought his house at the peak of the previous property boom and its value had steadily decreased. But when Triple Ex Productions moved in, its value plummeted. His house was now worth around £200,000 less than the amount he owed on his mortgage and he was imprisoned there for the foreseeable future.
Craig showed Andrea into his living room. From next door, they could hear a thudding sound and various, animal-like groans. Craig nodded to indicate next-door’s and said, “I’m sorry about the noise. I hope you won’t mind it.”
Andrea said, “It is only sex. In my country we do not mind it like you.”
From next door, they distantly heard a man’s voice saying, “You like my big cock in you, don’t you,” and those animal-groans seemed to increase.
 Andrea looked at Craig and said, “Sex is attracted to you. You have sex next door, and your work is all sex.”
“I suppose it is. I hadn’t thought about it before.”
She said, “It follows you around. It wants something from you.”
Craig realized she was right. Sex did seem to gravitate towards him; or was it just illicit sex that did this? He had not realized this before, and yet, having realized it now, it seemed so obvious. He wondered whether it was a coincidence, but on some level he realized it was not. And looking at Andrea, his mind connected all these things, including Andrea herself, with his desire for that boy in the television advert.
Andrea said, “Perhaps this is telling you something.”
He felt himself blushing, but blushing within his heart. He felt an uncomfortable heat swelling up within his chest.
She looked at him with her dark eyes and said, “Perhaps you should have more sex.”
He started to kiss her, and in his mind he felt he was floating underwater with the boy from the advert. She pulled away and said,
“This is too quick. You will need me to show you how.”
They heard a woman from next door shouting, “Yes! yes!”
Craig said, politely, “Would you like some tea?”
On the way to the kitchen, Andrea straightened two pictures on the walls, saying, about the second one, “This is in the wrong place.”
“Where shall I put it? I will do anything to please you.”
She told him, “In the bin.”
Later on, they moved some furniture around in his dining room, which she had also noticed was in the wrong place. In that room, they could clearly hear a man’s voice from next door saying, “You like my women’s underwear, don’t you? Can you see through my knickers?”

In the goldfish bowl, Bruce and Sheila Softly were hovering side by side. For the past ten minutes there was nothing but silence, and—to Bruce, anyway—the silence seemed to deepen with each minute.
For one further time, Sheila looked accusingly at Bruce; and Bruce could not stand this any longer. He turned to swim off, when Sheila said, “Where do you think you’re going, Bruce?”
Bruce opened his mouth to speak but there did not seem anything to say, so he just watched Sheila with his mouth hanging open.
Sheila demanded, “Well?”
Bruce said, in an experimental tone, “For a swim—?”
Sheila snapped, “Get back here—I want a word with you.”
Bruce turned back and sighed.
Sheila said, “And just why can’t you see me as a bus driver?”
“That! you’re asking me about that?”
“Come on, why?”
“I don’t know.”
“Yes you do, Bruce.”
“No, I don’t.”
“You do!”
“I don’t!”
After a pause, Bruce said, “It was only an example—that’s all.”
“But why pick that?”
“No reason, Sheila; it was just the first thing I thought of.”
Sheila scowled at him and said, “You think that’s all I’m good for, don’t you?—driving busses.”
“Of course not.”
“Why then?”
“It— er— it just didn’t seem like your style, that’s all, Sheila, not your style.”
“Not my style?”
“Why not?”
“I just pictured you doing something better.”
“Something better?”
“Of course, Sheila.”
“Like what?”
“Like whatever you wanted to.”
“And what if I wanted to be bus driver!”
Bruce shouted, “Be a bus driver, if that’s what you want!”
“But you said it wasn’t my style, Bruce.”
Bruce glared at Sheila for several seconds—his glare steadily intensifying—then he turned and darted away.
Sheila called, “You said you couldn’t really see me as a bus driver, Bruce.”
Bruce circled the bowl, going quicker and quicker, trying to block out the sound of Sheila’s taunts.
Sheila kept shouting, “—Saying that’s all I’m good for—that’s what you were doing. I can see exactly what you’re thinking, so don’t think you’ve fooled me. No, you’re just pretending it’s not what you were thinking, Bruce. That’s it—I can see everything you’re thinking—I can see it in your face!”
Bruce was now so enraged he was in danger of deliberately leaping from the bowl to escape Sheila’s taunts.
But Sheila then seemed to have finally emptied his whole head of words, so he turned, peered silently through the glass of the bowl and continued watching the view in the living room—but this time smirking smugly.

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